18 Sep 2013

Hestia...luffs the Incredible Spice Men

Before the Incredible Spice Men strode onto BBC2 in a clashing riot of orange, pink and tartan, I was a complete POOF when it came to spicing up my food.

I'm such a woose that an unexpected dalliance with a Victory V can set me chundering for a jug of cold water.

My domestic goddess authenticity is also a bit suspect.  Remember my attempt at making almond lemon cake? It took about half a dozen attempts to get it right and by that time Sonshine and I had eaten so many egg-rich cakes I thought we would need some kind of medical intervention before we managed to get to the toilet again unaided.

I am, however, a complete push-over when it comes to the purchasing of cookery bookeries.

Twenty minutes in to the first episode of The Incredible Spice Men on BBC2 and I was googling their book.  By the next day it had been ordered at my local bookshop (yeah, keeping it local *high fives any passing reader*) and by the end of the week, Sonshine had that sad, martyred look that I know so well.

I performed the Random Ingredients Test (like a Jackie Collin's Random Fuck Test. Except it's only for preserved lemons and the suchlike)

First out of the traps was the Dover Sole with Lime and Ginger.

I'm fine for the majority of the ingredients but when I check the spices - chilli, root ginger and fresh coriander, I get into a bit of a panic.  My chilli is so old that it's not even red any more.  I check the date on the jar - 2001.  It's nearly the same age as Sonshine.

The root ginger we do have.  But it has been confined to the freezer where it is now a shrivelled lump of a thing and I haff no coriander - fresh leaves, dry leaves nor seeds.

I hang my head in SHAME: I am a Spice Man's Worst Nightmare.

BUT - a quick jaunt to the supermarket ensures I am good to go - these are easily obtainable spices, even on a wet, windswept hell-hole  Scottish island.

And reader - The Dover Sole is BLOODY GORGEOUS!!!

Sonshine taps his pomegranate seeds thoughtfully with a fork.  'You can make this again,' he nods approvingly.

Ah, but I suspect that he did NOT mean 'for the next three consecutive nights'.  Which is what he got.  Let it be noted that when I find a recipe that I like, I will flog the poor sod to DEATH.

At the weekend I decide to make the Goats Cheese, Red Onion and Caraway Seed Tart.

The recipe calls for a 10" loose bottomed flan tin.  Dear reader, I only have an 8" tin, and I batter on regardless - making no alteration to quantity for the smaller tin.  This is why I end up with a 1" layer of onion 'marmelade' on my (home-made!) pastry base with nary the width of a gnat's ball-hair left to pour on the creamy filling. I plough on.

We have a LOT of the creamy mixture left.

I put it in the fridge, desperate to be economical with the food.  But in my heart of hearts I know that it will languish in there for days until it goes blue and I have to force it down the plug hole with the prongs of a fork.

The tart is A SUCCESS!!!!!  Although I have WAY too much onion marmalade in it.  Sonshine and I eat the entire tart over the course of the next day or so.

So, what do I think of the book?

The joy of this book is that the recipes are not difficult.  Tony and Cyrus (see, we're on first name terms!) are not out to bamboozle you with instructions that would baffle most of Masterchef.  No! They want you to cook fairly ordinary things  (eg Dover sole, a quiche, chicken thighs etc) and make them MAGICAL with the clever use of spices!

It's a lovely book, crammed with very achievable recipes, some of their insider knowledge about the most common spices and tips and techniques to elevate your cooking from the MEH to the OHMEHGOD!

Of course I DO want to marry them.  Both of them.  What's not to like about a man in a turban AND a kilt sporting a wholly unexpected thick Edinburgh accent? And Cyrus Todiwalah is just such a teddy-bear too.  I love their charming banter, their easy style and warmly recommend The Incredible Spice Men cookbook to the House.

PS - I actually DID make pancakes out of that fridge mixture.  And I added ginger to my stewed fruits.

*goes off to practise writing Mrs Hestia Singh and Mrs Hestia Todiwala.*

*Carefully scores through the Mrs Hestia Ottolenghi signatures with a sigh*

These two are the chefs for me!

Both images © The BBC.  So please don't sue me.


  1. You do know that all the recipes from the series are on the BBC website?

  2. sounds delicious. and kudos for using up the creamy mixture! nothing worse than a wasted creamy mixture, in my book!

    btw, i have been reading you regularly, just too damn dispirited to comment. so sorry.

  3. Oh I can't bear Victory Vs, and I luffs me a bit of chilli :D

  4. Getting a Sonshine seal of approval is quite an accomplishment. I can't wait to see you in October.

  5. I love these guys but the kitchen reduces me to jelly, I want to move in! x

  6. Wow, a cookbook that got two Sonshine seals of approval in one week - definitely a keeper ;)

  7. Cookbooks are like porn for me - I just look at the pictures and salivate. These sound yummy, so I looked them up on the web and oh lord you have to weigh stuff. This is already beyond me.

  8. ooh...sounds utterly delicious.....I did the same thing when the son was resident so much so he would still say when he liked a new dish o' the day but with the koda 'doesn't mean I want it every day.......' handy tip when you want them to move out though!!!x


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